I swished my way into high society

Have you heard of ‘Swishing parties’?

Of course you have, even I have.

Today I went to my first one.

Just in case you haven’t and don’t know what a swishing party is I’ll explain. It’s where you donate old clothes, accessories, and the like, and in return you are usually given tokens or something similar which you can then use to ‘purchase’ new items.

So I walked all along the lovely Roath Park in Cardiff, past the lake, to a little Scout hall, and then I plonked my 10 donated items at the little counter and got 10 little tickets, the sort you get at a funfair.

Then we had 30 minutes to ‘browse’ so I was just picking up things and was all set to purchase them once the 30 minutes was up, but then I (and most of the other people there too) found out that we couldn’t just purchase them, instead we had to leave the clothes we had our hearts set on back on the rails, then go outside and wait. Whilst outside the organisers made sure no clothes were hidden behind radiators or something, and then it was a mad scramble to get back in and get your booty.

What annoyed me is I put down a dress I really wanted, and then I saw someone pick it up and basically hide it before the organiser sent us outside. Cow.

But, I was lucky. No one seemed to want the pieces I had selected and I got 8 of my originally selected 10 items, and then replaced the missing two items with a suit, which was probably a more sensible option.

Today I acquired the following:

1 Maxi Dress

1 Blazer and Trouser Suit Set

1 Kimono (brand new!)

1 Swimsuit (brand new!)

1 Jaeger dress (designer! lush)

2 Woolen scarfs

1 Christmas Jumper!!!!

1 Oasis woolen shawl thing

1 Pair of ballet pumps

This has all saved me money, not just in the sense that I have new clothes for free, but I was going to have to buy a new swimsuit, I needed new shoes, and it is a tradition of mine to get a new Christmas jumper each winter.

So all in all I think it was a success. Huzzah!

690 Days

There are 690 days left before I turn 30.

I want my debt cleared by then.

Currently my Credit Card and Overdraft debt stands at £4920.83

I owe the boy £1011.75

Total = £5932.58

Divide that amount by 690 and it comes to about £8.60 a day.

If I could pay that everyday then my debt would be cleared by the time I am 30 which is my target date.

Trouble is that amount a day seems impossible.

I’m going to have to dig deep and use every money saving skill I have to clear the debt by that time.

I hope I can do it.

Financial Review of April 2017

Another month has ended. Things are getting very ‘real’ financially for me, so I am going to analyse where I have been making mistakes.

Here is a breakdown of my spending in April 2017.

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

TOTAL SPENDS IN APRIL = £241.28

This was £41.28 over budget, which is far from ideal. I am going to do a separate post about the food budget so I will leave that for now.

 

DISPOSABLE AND DISCRETIONARY INCOME SPENDING

SOCIAL

Social spending was an astronomical £210.90 and all I have in the way to offer up as an excuse is that it was my birthday near the end of March. But I wouldn’t say I celebrated it excessively. I did owe the boy money for a ticket to yet another gig, and I did go to ANOTHER gig in April, so maybe no more gigs for a while.

HOMEWARE

Homeware spending was a fairly reasonable £11.75 which consisted of things we did need, and some things we didn’t. I bought a mixing bowl as because I have been getting my bake on a lot recently having one mixing bowl just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I also bought a measuring jug as I broke our one. I also bought a magnetic shopping list, which I guess was style over substance. AND I bought two mason jars with straws and a nice tumbler for my Gin drinks which definitely weren’t needed, but their combined cost was £1.50.

GIFTS

Gifts was a crazy amount, I spent £67.95 in April on things I classified as gifts, but to explain further my sister was doing the London Marathon, and in the past when my brother had competed in a marathon I donated £50 to his charity, so I wanted to do the same for my sister. I also donated money to a work colleague as they are running 4 half marathons this year as they are turning 40, and it is for another good cause. And I was relatively good on a few of the other gifts using vouchers to drive down the costs.

TRAVEL (DAY TO DAY)

£27.20 was spent last month on travelling day to day costs and I have no excuses for it as I did not go anywhere that especially needed to be travelled to, it was just laziness and or a lack of planning that created this cost.

That is nearly £30 that could have gone on my debt or prevented me from being in such a pickle now.

WORK EXPENSE

£4 was spent on milk and other related costs in April, not bad, but then I did start a new job where the tea, coffee and milk are provided. So this cost should cease to exist soon.

TRAVEL (VISITING)

I had to buy my train tickets to go to my Granddad’s 90th birthday in May, which cost me £42.50. Whilst I might have been able to buy the tickets cheaper, I am glad that I am going to spend time with my family soon.

My total DISPOSABLE/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING in April was … £364.30. 

This is too much, and was aided by the fact that it was my birthday and I had received birthday money, so I was able to buy things that I might not have been able to otherwise, such as the train tickets, but this is a HUGE amount of money to be spending when you are doing a NO SPEND YEAR and I think I have lost my way a little bit and may do a strict challenge to sort myself out.

 

 

 

 

I have options (shopping options)

Today marked an important day for my finances.

I said at the start of 2017 that I would be allowed to buy clothes if I bought them with vouchers and spent nothing in terms of cash on them.

Today I got my Tesco club card statement and vouchers through. In the last three months I have collected enough points to be rewarded with £10 in vouchers.

Add this to my faithful £6.50 in vouchers collected across the previous 6 months and I have a nice little pot of possibilities.

My boyfriend kindly agreed that the Tesco Club Card vouchers can all be mine this year, and I know that I can do a club card boost and exchange them for up to 4 times their value on meals out and things, but having looked through the options I don’t think my boyfriend and I would actually enjoy the places on offer.

Today was also notable because I earned 500 points for uploading pictures of my shopping receipts on the great consumer market research scheme ‘Shop and Scan’ which means I now have enough points to exchange for up to £20 in Vouchers, for places like New Look or Amazon.

The old me, if I suddenly had vouchers that were mine to spend, spend, spend would have used them in about 30 minutes.

I am not in a hurry to use them, which feels great, like I am in control, because part of the No Spend Year idea is also to produce less waste, to revamp, reduce, reuse and recycle. So do I need anything?

No.

So they will sit proudly underneath the Hello Kitty magnet on the fridge until I have a real need to use them.

I have also come to realise something just about everyone else on the planet had already taken as an established truth which is that it really pays to buy quality first time round.

For instance, I have always been more cheap and cheerful then quality, because even when I was spending other peoples money (I mean on my credit cards, not that I was going through people’s wallets, honestly guys I’m not a thief!) I had a sense of spending as little money as possible.

As a result of this I buy a £4 bra that lasts about 5 months before the underwire pokes out and it is all stretched and baggy. When if I had bought a nice Marks and Spencer’s bra (is it just me or does it seem that you can do no wrong if you go to Marks and Spencer’s?) for about £25 I would probably still have it 5 years later.

I have realised it pays to buy good quality the first time round through two ways.

One, My Doc Martens. I spent £90 on them two years ago and they are only now beginning to be ever so slightly worn out. They still have, I reckon, another 2 years in them at least. They are certainly the most expensive item of clothing I have ever bought, and I know it’s shallow to say this but they make me very happy.

Also before the No Spend Year began, in late 2016 I bought a pair of jeans to see me through 2017. They cost £30 which given the most I had ever spent on a pair of jeans before was £14 seemed like a fortune to me.

Well, I can happily say they are the nicest jeans I have ever worn. They are beautiful and the quality of them feels great compared to the very flimsy £9.99 jeans I had spent the majority of 2016 in.

So I will save my money from now on and buy higher quality items when I need to instead of trying to buy as much tat for as little money as possible.

Payment a Day

My bank account as of this moment only has the exact amount of money left for the two remaining bills that need to come out before next payday.

This is because of the following:

I have transferred the bulk of the remaining money to my savings account. I have transferred the money that covers the budgeted categories to keep it safe.

Safe I hear you ask? Yes, you see with the budgeted categories most of them won’t be spent every month, but I will need to have the money ‘saved’ because when I do use the money from that category I will most likely be spending a couple of month’s worth of the budget at that point.

So you can see that my savings account is the logical place for them.

I have also transferred my boyfriend the money for a ticket to a football match we are going to next month.

Which left the bill money, and £3.31.

I am now going to tell you about an idea that is from the forum on the Money Saving Expert website which was created by my hero, Martin Lewis. ‘Payment a day’

Payment a Day, or PAD as it is better known on the MSE website, is where you make a payment-big or small, doesn’t matter-everyday to your chosen account, most usually a debt or savings.

In the summer of 2016 this really kept me on track when I was ‘between contracts’ (unemployed) and wanted to tackle my debts.

My tactic is to round my bank account down to, depending on how flush I am at the time, the nearest £1/£5/£10.

I no longer do a PAD everyday, as I would soon run out of money and eat into my bill money because every penny is now carefully budgeted for, but when I do have a random amount remaining in my account I send it to one of my debts.

So I know it is only £3.31 but that is £3.31 I have sent to my credit card that I won’t ever be paying interest on again. It is small, but I have paid extra to my debts.

And paying extra is what counts.

Believe me there was a point in my life where if I had £3.31 left in my account which couldn’t be withdrawn I would be going from shop to shop looking at things to that amount that I could buy.

It didn’t even matter what I was buying.

So this means my savings account is now at £100 which I’ll agree is frighteningly small for a adult-ish girl without a permanent work contract, but that is the largest balance I have had in that account for YEARS! It is triple digits! (just)

I will dip into that savings account, as it has my work expenses money in it, but putting it in my savings account first is a statement to my intention of spending as little as possible.

Today was a good day.

 

A small good thing

(Thank you to Raymond Carver for the title)

I have had an interesting day money wise, and it is perhaps fitting I end the day watching the film The Big Short.

In my ‘old’ life waking up the day after payday would mean a few things. The compulsion to hit the shops would be so consuming I would normally leave the house without having breakfast. Sometimes I would go out for coffee and breakfast first. There would also be the panic and desperation I felt whenever I spent money. Because I would be spending my money before paying my bills, I would be spending money I didn’t have. I would put my card blindly into the cash machine and pray that some money would come out.

For about a year in 2015 whenever I made a payment by credit/debit card I would always say to the cashier ‘It’s a new card and I’m not sure if I have activated it yet.” I would say this every single time to save face if the payment was declined. The card was not new. And my payments were frequently declined. I couldn’t spend within reason.

Last night my boyfriend and I went to a gig. I had withdrawn my social budget money and my football training money from a cash machine so that I could pay attention to every penny I spent.

At the gig my boyfriend wanted to buy the bands CD, but he infrequently has cash on him as he prefers card payments.

It was such a wonderful feeling to lend him (temporarily) the money to buy the CDs. Because pretty much every other time we have gone to a gig together in the last 5 years it has been me begging him for money so I could buy a T-Shirt or a CD, or a Vinyl or anything at the Merchandise table. I felt such an enormous sense of power that I could help him enjoy the gig and have something to remember it by and have no buyers remorse myself.

I made it clear to my boyfriend I would need the money back, but it was also a lovely feeling when he got panicked that his bank transfer wouldn’t go through till Monday to reassure him that I am fine financially.

My financial status has gone from ‘critical’ to ‘critical but stable’ to now ‘stable’ (ish)

It is customary for me to spend Saturday’s food shopping and today was no different. But today is the ‘shop after payday’ so it was a chance to stock up on a month’s supply of things we had either run out of or were seriously low on.

As usual I find it comforting to take everything home and know that we aren’t going to starve or have bad breath for at least a month.

I also went to see my friend after she finished work, and maybe as a result of being closer to 30 then 20 we ended up talking about houses and the ‘nice areas’ to live in.

I am thankful everyday for where I live. I live close to the town centre and have good transport links, I am near a great selection of shops (these things are essential as neither my boyfriend or I drive). We live in a two bedroom house (rented of course) which is more than ample for our needs, although as both my boyfriend and I are hoarders we have rather filled the space.

The house is far from perfect, the area is far from perfect, but it is perfectly acceptable and more than good enough for us. At this moment in time it is all I could possibly desire.

I have a lot to be grateful for.

I do still have the desire to spend money, but it is now within reason and I do feel that I am getting more out of my life on less money.

I am nearing the end of my first month in my spend free year, and it is going better than expected.

But 1 month is easy, 11 more will be harder.

I won’t give up without a fight though.

A full assessment of my monthly income

Hi everyone,

Well as you know today was payday, wooo to the hoooo!

I have decided to show the full extent of my finances by comparing my income versus my outgoings.

So here goes:

FEBRUARY 2017

INCOME

(After student loan repayments, pension contribution, taxes and national insurance)

£1206.26

OUTGOINGS

Paying back boyfriend for Dr Who Ticket £12.80

Credit Card A £20.97 

Credit Card L £20

Credit Card N £10.40

Bank Charges £15.04

Paying back overdraft £100

Credit Card T £30

Phone Contract £21.49

Broadband £26.17

Gas and Electricity £54

Train Season Ticket £292.30

Rent and Council Tax £198.42

Savings £20

Food/Grocery/Household Shopping £200

Water Bill Payment £19.15

Football Training £12

Football Training Transport Costs £15.60

Membership £3.92

Work Expenses, Gifts, Travel (Day to Day), Travel (Visiting), Home, Social, Health, Postage and Packaging and Clothing Maintenance = £100 (in total)

£1172.26

Remaining = £35

So after everything has been taken out and accounted for I am left with £35 for miscellaneous spending.

As long as I have food and shelter accounted for then I will be fine.

To be in profit after all the bills (some more fun then others) have been taken out is a great feeling.

I am happy. I don’t have room for error, I notice if as little as 1p is missing from my purse, but I have ‘surplus’ money each month. I’m prioritising my debts, things will be fine. I hope.